Here are a few popular Canvas features to be especially excited about.


  • simplified interface that streamlines course development for instructors and helps students navigate their courses.
  • true student view: If you want to preview your course, just switch to student view. You can even take quizzes and submit assignments in student view, and Canvas will save your scores just like a real student. You can click “Reset Student” any time to start over with a fresh test account.
  • Great mobile apps, such as the Canvas Teacher App that lets you post announcements, grade assignments, and make changes to your course quickly and easily. The Student App allows students to receive course related notifications, submit assignments, take quizzes, and participate in other learning activities.

Course Management

  • Simplified course setup: Canvas makes it quicker and easier to set up your online course content, so you spend less time clicking through menus and more time doing what’s important (like teaching!).
  • Undelete: In some cases you can restore accidentally deleted course content.
  • Easily copy files from one course to another: Under the Files tab in your personal Settings, you'll have access to all your files in all your courses — in one spot. From there you can drag a file from one course to another, which creates a copy. This is much faster than downloading and re-uploading.
  • Dashboard: This shows handy information, like whether you’ve published your course yet, assignments that are ready to grade, etc.


  • Calendaring: The Canvas calendar shows all important dates for all your courses in a single place. Additionally, the instructor can change the deadline for an assignment just by clicking and dragging the event in the calendar. Or they can create a new assignment by clicking on a due date.
  • Notifications: You can receive notifications via email, text, or in your calendar. This also applies to the mobile app.

Student Tools

  • Student collaboration: Students can be assigned to groups and have a small version of a course for just their group, where they can share materials, form discussions, create assignments for the group members, and even create sub-groups.
  • Student pages: You can allow students to create and comment on course pages for collaborative work.
  • Peer review tool: This allows students to give feedback on other students’ assignments. Feedback can be anonymous.

Course Content

  • Bulk upload and download: This can be done with drag and drop or zip upload, with an “unzip into folder” option.
  • Canvas Commons is a learning object repository that enables educators to find, import, and share resources. A digital library full of educational content, Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with other users as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course. These resources can be shared throughout the entire Canvas international community, just with the university, with your department, or with specific individuals.
  • Google Drive and Docs integration: Once the user authorizes it, Canvas can display a link to Google Drive in the course navigation. Student group work in Google Docs can be managed in the Collaborations tool.
  • Rich Content Editor: This has many handy features. For example, you can drag and drop hyperlinks from anywhere on the web into the editor to insert them.
  • Content prerequisites: Since students may open course materials without reviewing associated files, you can set requirements in the module. For example, you can require students to complete an activity or open a specific file in order to access other module content.

Quizzes and Grading

  • Integrated Gradebook: When you create an assignment, quiz, or discussion with a grade, Canvas automatically adds a grade item into the gradebook. You don’t have to create grade items in the Grades Tool and the activity tool and then link them together, as in D2L.
  • Streamlined attendance-taking: Canvas allows you to take attendance with almost no setup. Just open Attendance and click students’ names to mark them present or absent. An attendance grade will automatically appear in your gradebook; you only have to choose how much it’s worth.
  • Message students who…”: The Grades tool lets you send messages to specific students based on a range of grade-status variables.
  • Quiz question groups: If you use a group to put your questions into a quiz, they are connected between quiz and question bank. This means edits made to those questions in the question bank automatically update that group in the quiz, too. This is not the case for individually added questions.
  • What-if grades: Students can access the grades page and enter hypothetical grades to determine how that would affect their overall course grade. Students really appreciate this feature.